United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
M. Dow, Jr. United States District Judge.
reasons set forth below, Defendant Christopher Sanders'
motion to suppress  is denied. This case remains set for
further status hearing on January 21, 2020, at 9:00 a.m.
morning of August 18, 2017, Chicago police officers Dean
Ewing and Thomas Creamer arrested defendant for the state
charges of UUW by a felon and aggravated unlawful use of a
weapon. Tr. 5, 32. After Defendant's arrest, officers
transported him to the tactical office in the Fifth District
police station. Id. 6, 32. The tactical office,
which is located directly next to the rear exit of the police
station, is approximately 12 feet long by 12 feet wide and
has a metal bench and bar that are both affixed to the wall.
Id. 6, 33. Once inside the tactical office, Officers
Ewing and Creamer inventoried Defendant's personal
property and removed any shoelaces and belts. Id. 7,
33. The officers handcuffed Defendant to the room's metal
bar for officer safety and to prevent him from escaping out
through an unlocked door at the rear exit of the station.
Id. 7-8, 33-34.
processing, Officer Ewing ran Defendant's criminal
history and discovered that he was a convicted felon.
Id. 12. Specifically, Defendant has a 2009
conviction for armed robbery and a 2014 conviction for being
a felon in possession of a firearm. See Gov't Exs. 2
& 3. According to the testimony of both officers, at
approximately 10:25 a.m., after Defendant was processed,
Officer Ewing personally read defendant each line of his
Miranda rights verbatim from the back of his FOP
book. Id. 8-9, 34-35; see also Govt. Ex. 1 (a
photocopy of the page that he read from his FOP book). The
officers further testified that, when asked, “Do you
understand each of these rights?” Defendant answered
yes. Tr. 9, 35. And when asked, “Do you wish
to answer questions at this time?” Defendant again
answered yes. Id. 10, 35. According to the officers,
Defendant then proceeded to tell the officers that he had had
the firearm for a while but had never shot it, and didn't
know if it had been used in any shootings. Id. 10,
officers testified that they did not engage in any verbal or
physical threats to induce Defendant to make a statement.
Id. 11, 36. In fact, according to the officers,
Defendant appeared “relaxed, calm, at ease” and
“compliant and cooperative, ” and did not appear
to be excessively nervous, combative, or confused.
Id. 11-12, 36-37. The officers further stated that
at no time did Defendant tell them that he wanted a lawyer
present or that he did not want to talk to them. Id.
12, 37. In fact, because defendant was being calm and
cooperative, the officers allowed him to make a telephone
call from the tactical office, which was not their typical
practice. Id. 12-13, 37-38.
criminal defendant's post-arrest statement is admissible
if the defendant was read his Miranda rights and
then knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently waived those
rights. Under the controlling legal standard, the Government
must show that Defendant's Miranda waive was
“voluntary in the sense that it was the product of a
free and deliberate choice.” Berghuis v.
Thompson, 560 U.S. 370, 382 (2010) (quoting North
Carolina v. Butler, 441 U.S. 369, 373 (1979)); see also
United States v. Brown, 664 F.3d 1115, 1118 (7th
Cir. 2011). Whether a person has validly waived his
Miranda rights depends on the totality of the
circumstances, including “the defendant's
background and conduct, the duration and conditions of the
interview and detention, the physical and mental condition of
the defendant, the attitude of the law enforcement officials,
and whether law enforcement officers used coercive
techniques.” United States v. Quiroz, 874 F.3d
562, 567 (7th Cir. 2017) (internal quotation marks omitted);
see also Johnson v. Pollard, 559 F.3d 746, 753 (7th
Cir. 2009); Gilbert v. Merchant, 488 F.3d 780, 791
(7th Cir. 2007). In considering the defendant's
background, a court may take into consideration his
“experience with the criminal justice system.”
Brown, 664 F.3d at 1118. And the court of appeals
has stressed that it is “immaterial that [the]
defendant did not sign a waiver form.” Id.
the standard and its application in this case are
straightforward. At the evidentiary hearing, both officers
credibly testified that Officer Ewing read Defendant his
Miranda rights verbatim from the back page of
Ewing's FOP book. The Court cannot see any reason to
doubt that testimony. Miranda has been the law since
1966, and its incantation is familiar to everyday Americans.
Moreover, the officers learned almost immediately that
Defendant had prior felony convictions, from which it was
reasonable to surmise that they would have nothing to gain
from dispensing with Miranda warnings, since
Defendant likely was familiar with his rights any way. True,
the officers could have provided a written waiver form at the
same time, and had they done so and obtained Defendant's
signature, the instant motion likely would not have been
filed. But the officers' testimony that Defendant gave an
affirmative answer to the question of whether he understood
his rights was credible, and the Seventh Circuit has
repeatedly reaffirmed that a written waiver is not
obligatory. See, e.g., Brown, 664 F.3d at
1118; United States v. Montgomery, 390 F.3d 1013,
1017 (7th Cir. 2004) (refusing to extend Miranda to
require officers to record all interrogations); United
States v. Jackson, 300 F.3d 740, 748 (7th Cir. 2002)
(“The absence of a signed waiver is not conclusive
evidence on the issue of whether a defendant waived his
rights.”). On the basis of the foregoing, the
Government has established that Defendant's waiver of his
Miranda rights was knowing.
was voluntary. Both officers testified without contradiction
that Defendant was taken to a large, unlocked room and was
treated cordially without threats, intimidation, or physical
contact. Although Defendant was handcuffed for officer safety
and to prevent escape, the officers found Defendant to be
“relaxed, calm, at ease” and “compliant and
cooperative.” Indeed, based on his demeanor, the
officers permitted Defendant to make a telephone call from
the tactical office. There was no evidence to the contrary
presented at the hearing on any of these points, or any other
suggestion that Defendant was subject to threats, sleep or
food deprivation, or anything else indicating coercion.
See, e.g., Berghuis, 560 U.S. at 387
(finding waiver when defendant was questioned “in a
standard-sized room in the middle of the afternoon” and
there were no facts indicating coercion like “an
incapacitated and sedated suspect, sleep and food
deprivation, and threats”); United States v.
Snodgrass, 635 F.3d 324, 328 (7th Cir. 2011) (finding
waiver because “his decision was not a result of mental
or physical harm”); Brown, 664 F.3d at 1118
(finding waiver due to defendant's familiarity with the
criminal justice system from his prior convictions).
opposition to the credible and consistent live testimony of
the officers at the hearing, Defendant submits only his own
five-sentence affidavit in which he denies being informed of
his Miranda rights and subsequently confessing to
possession of a gun. Defendant, of course, is not obliged to
testify or to call any witnesses, either at an evidentiary
hearing or at trial. But the Court is not obliged, even in a
criminal case, to take his side in a credibility contest,
particularly when the other witnesses did provide an
opportunity for the Court to gauge their testimony in the
crucible of cross-examination. Indeed, this was exactly the
scenario presented in United States v. Edmond, 560
Fed.Appx. 580, 582-83 (7th Cir. Mar. 19, 2014): “Edmond
had submitted an affidavit before the evidentiary hearing,
but then at the hearing he declined to testify and instead
left uncontradicted that, after Miranda warnings, he
waived his rights to remain silent and to have a lawyer
present during the interview. The district court credited the
officer's testimony, and an appellate challenge to that
decision would be frivolous.” Other cases similarly
reflect the principle that a fact-finder may credit the
testimony of live witnesses over the testimony of paper
affiants. See, e.g., United States v. Mujahid, 2013
WL 4011000 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 6, 2013) (giving declarations of
non-testifying witnesses “substantially less
weight” than live witnesses); United States v.
Marzook, 435 F.Supp.2d 708, 752 (N.D. Ill. 2006) (same).
also points to a couple of additional missing details in the
written record. First, Defendant argues that the Court should
doubt the officers' version of events because Officer
Ewing used the passive voice - stating that Defendant was
“Mirandized” by the “R/O's”
(reporting officers), rather than stating that a particular
officer read Defendant his Miranda rights - in his
case incident report. Second, Defendant submits that the
Court should infer from the omission in Officer
Altenbach's arrest report of any reference to the reading
of Miranda rights that it never happened. These
arguments cannot bear the weight Defendant places on them.
Where a court credits the testimony of the officers as to the
compliance with Miranda, “[i]t makes no
difference that the ...